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Christmas Comes Early For Nonagenarians

THE generosity of an English philanthropist is allowing a North East housing association to deliver gift vouchers worth over £3,000 to its oldest residents this Christmas.

Each year, Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association (DAMHA) presents every resident who is aged 90 and over on 25th December with gift vouchers for £25.

The vouchers are provided by the Almshouse Association, through a Christmas fund established in 1958 by the businessmen and philanthropist MaJor A.E. Allnatt.

As the largest Almshouse charity in England, DAMHA is this year presenting 112 vouchers to its residents across the North East and is adding a further £10 voucher, increasing the total to £35.

Among the residents to receive their vouchers this year are people living in DAMHA’s Rutherford House sheltered housing scheme in Easington.

Edward Brennan, who along with his wife Amy both received £35 vouchers, said: “This is a very generous offer and we are very grateful. We have all worked very hard during our lives so it is nice to receive something like this.

“We may have received £35 each but I am merely just Amy’s treasurer, holding the money for her until she decides what to spend it on.”

Gordon Gray, Chief Executive of DAMHA, said: “We are pleased to be able to give out these vouchers to our residents at Christmas time. As all of them lived through a world war and many of them survived hard times down the mines, this is just our way of saying a big thank you to them.”

The Christmas fund was initially established to “provide Christmas faire for the poor inmates of almshouses in England”. Major Allnatt, who donated the money to the Almshouse Association, insisted that the full name of each recipient was written on the gift and that the presentation of the gift should be made near to Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. He felt this personal touch would give added pleasure.

Born in 1889 Major ‘Alfred’ Allnatt took over his father’s supply business and developed it into Allnatt London Properties and other businesses before World War Two, Major Allnatt became extremely wealthy during the course of his business career and became a significant contributor to charitable causes. He died in 1969.